Posted by Tax Shack on April 17, 2013
The IRS has some advice for taxpayers who missed the tax filing deadline.
- File as soon as possible. If you owe federal income tax, you should file and pay as soon as you can to minimize any penalty and interest charges. There is no penalty for filing a late return if you are due a refund.
- Penalties and interest may be due. If you missed the April 15 deadline, you may have to pay penalties and interest. The IRS may charge penalties for late filing and for late payment. The law generally does not allow a waiver of interest charges. However, the IRS will consider a reduction of these penalties if you can show a reasonable cause for being late.
- E-file is your best option. IRS e-file programs are available through Oct. 15. E-file is the easiest, safest and most accurate way to file. With e-file, you will receive confirmation that the IRS has received your tax return. If you e-file and are due a refund, the IRS will normally issue it within 21 days.
- Pay as much as you can. If you owe tax but can’t pay it all at once, you should pay as much as you can when you file your tax return. Pay the remaining balance due as soon as possible to minimize penalties and interest charges.
- Installment Agreements are available. If you need more time to pay your federal income taxes, you can request a payment agreement with the IRS. Apply online using the IRS Online Payment Agreement Application tool or file Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request.
- Refunds may be waiting. If you’re due a refund, you should file as soon as possible to get it. Even if you are not required to file, you may be entitled to a refund. This could apply if you had taxes withheld from your wages, or you qualify for certain tax credits. If you don’t file your return within three years, you could forfeit your right to the refund.
For more information, visit IRS.gov.
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Posted by Tax Shack on April 10, 2013
Some taxpayers may need to make estimated tax payments during the year. The type of income you receive determines whether you must pay estimated taxes. Here are six tips from the IRS about making estimated tax payments.
1. If you do not have taxes withheld from your income, you may need to make estimated tax payments. This may apply if you have income such as self-employment, interest, dividends or capital gains. It could also apply if you do not have enough taxes withheld from your wages. If you are required to pay estimated taxes during the year, you should make these payments to avoid a penalty.
2. Generally, you may need to pay estimated taxes in 2013 if you expect to owe $1,000 or more in taxes when you file your federal tax return. Other rules apply, and special rules apply to farmers and fishermen.
3. When figuring the amount of your estimated taxes, you should estimate the amount of income you expect to receive for the year. You should also include any tax deductions and credits that you will be eligible to claim. Be aware that life changes, such as a change in marital status or a child born during the year can affect your taxes. Try to make your estimates as accurate as possible.
4. You normally make estimated tax payments four times a year. The dates that apply to most people are April 15, June 17 and Sept. 16 in 2013, and Jan. 15, 2014.
5. You should use Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals, to figure your estimated tax.
6. You may pay online or by phone. You may also pay by check or money order, or by credit or debit card. You’ll find more information about your payment options in the Form 1040-ES instructions. Also, check out the Electronic Payment Options Home Page at IRS.gov. If you mail your payments to the IRS, you should use the payment vouchers that come with Form 1040-ES.
For more information about estimated taxes, see Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax. Forms and publications are available on IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
IRS Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
Electronic Payments Home Page
Form 1040-ES, Estimated Tax for Individuals
Using Electronic Funds Transfers With Your Return
Tips for Individuals Who Owe the IRS
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Posted by Tax Shack on April 3, 2013
Giving to charity may make you feel good and help you lower your tax bill. The IRS offers these nine tips to help ensure your contributions pay off on your tax return.
1. If you want a tax deduction, you must donate to a qualified charitable organization. You cannot deduct contributions you make to either an individual, a political organization or a political candidate
2. You must file Form 1040 and itemize your deductions on Schedule A. If your total deduction for all noncash contributions for the year is more than $500, you must also file Form 8283, Noncash Charitable Contributions, with your tax return.
3. If you receive a benefit of some kind in return for your contribution, you can only deduct the amount that exceeds the fair market value of the benefit you received. Examples of benefits you may receive in return for your contribution include merchandise, tickets to an event or other goods and services.
4. Donations of stock or other non-cash property are usually valued at fair market value. Used clothing and household items generally must be in good condition to be deductible. Special rules apply to vehicle donations.
5. Fair market value is generally the price at which someone can sell the property.
6. You must have a written record about your donation in order to deduct any cash gift, regardless of the amount. Cash contributions include those made by check or other monetary methods. That written record can be a written statement from the organization, a bank record or a payroll deduction record that substantiates your donation. That documentation should include the name of the organization, the date and amount of the contribution. A telephone bill meets this requirement for text donations if it shows this same information.
7. To claim a deduction for gifts of cash or property worth $250 or more, you must have a written statement from the qualified organization. The statement must show the amount of the cash or a description of any property given. It must also state whether the organization provided any goods or services in exchange for the gift.
8. You may use the same document to meet the requirement for a written statement for cash gifts and the requirement for a written acknowledgement for contributions of $250 or more.
9. If you donate one item or a group of similar items that are valued at more than $5,000, you must also complete Section B of Form 8283. This section generally requires an appraisal by a qualified appraiser.
For more information on charitable contributions, see Publication 526, Charitable Contributions. For information about noncash contributions, see Publication 561, Determining the Value of Donated Property. Forms and publications are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Publication 526, Charitable Contributions
Publication 561, Determine the Value of Donated Property
Common Misconceptions About Deductions
Itemized vs. Standard Deductions
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Posted by Tax Shack on March 26, 2013
If you earn money managing or working on a farm, you are in the farming business. Farms include plantations, ranches, ranges and orchards. Farmers may raise livestock, poultry or fish, or grow fruits or vegetables. Here are 10 things about farm income and expenses that the IRS wants you to know.
1. Crop insurance proceeds. Insurance payments from crop damage count as income. They should generally be reported the year they are received.
2. Deductible farm expenses. Farmers can deduct ordinary and necessary expenses as business expenses. An ordinary farming expense is one that is common and accepted in the farming business. A necessary expense is one that is appropriate for that business.
3. Employees and hired help. You can deduct reasonable wages you paid to your farm’s full and part-time workers. You must withhold Social Security, Medicare and income taxes from your employees’ wages.
4. Items purchased for resale. If you purchased livestock and other items for resale, you may be able to deduct their cost in the year of the sale. This includes freight charges for transporting livestock to your farm.
5. Repayment of loans. You can only deduct the interest you paid on a loan if the loan proceeds are used for your farming business. You cannot deduct interest on a loan used for personal expenses.
6. Weather-related sales. Bad weather may force you to sell more livestock or poultry than you normally would. If so, you may be able to postpone reporting a gain from the sale of the additional animals.
7. Net operating losses. If deductible expenses are more than income for the year, you may have a net operating loss. You can carry that loss over to other years and deduct it. You may get a refund of part or all of the income tax you paid for past years, or you may be able to reduce your tax in future years.
8. Farm income averaging. You may be able to average some or all of the current year’s farm income by spreading it out over the past three years. This may lower your taxes if your farm income is high in the current year and low in one or more of the past three years. This method does not change your prior year tax. It only uses the prior year information to figure your current year tax.
9. Fuel and road use. You may be able to claim a tax credit or refund of federal excise taxes on fuel used on your farm for farm work.
10. Farmers Tax Guide. More information about farm income and deductions is in Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide. You can download it at IRS.gov, or call the IRS at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to have it mailed to you.
Tax Shack Checklist for Farmers
Publication 225, Farmer’s Tax Guide
Home Office Deduction
Four Things You Should Know If You Barter
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Posted by Tax Shack on March 22, 2013
When you file a tax return, you usually have a choice to make: whether to itemize deductions or take the standard deduction. You should compare both methods and use the one that gives you the greater tax benefit.
The IRS offers these six facts to help you choose.
1. Figure your itemized deductions. Add up the cost of items you paid for during the year that you might be able to deduct. Expenses could include home mortgage interest, state income taxes or sales taxes (but not both), real estate and personal property taxes, and gifts to charities. They may also include large casualty or theft losses or large medical and dental expenses that insurance did not cover. Unreimbursed employee business expenses may also be deductible.
2. Know your standard deduction. If you do not itemize, your basic standard deduction amount depends on your filing status. For 2012, the basic amounts are:
• Single = $5,950
• Married Filing Jointly = $11,900
• Head of Household = $8,700
• Married Filing Separately = $5,950
• Qualifying Widow(er) = $11,900
3. Apply other rules in some cases. Your standard deduction is higher if you are 65 or older or blind. Other rules apply if someone else can claim you as a dependent on his or her tax return. To figure your standard deduction in these cases, use the worksheet in the instructions for Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
4. Check for the exceptions. Some people do not qualify for the standard deduction and should itemize. This includes married people who file a separate return and their spouse itemizes deductions. See the Form 1040 instructions for the rules about who may not claim a standard deduction.
5. Choose the best method. Compare your itemized and standard deduction amounts. You should file using the method with the larger amount.
6. File the right forms. To itemize your deductions, use Form 1040, and Schedule A, Itemized Deductions. You can take the standard deduction on Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.
For more information about allowable deductions, see Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, and the instructions for Schedule A. Tax forms and publications are available on the IRS website at IRS.gov You may also call 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676) to order them by mail.
Interactive Tax Assistant Tool
IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax
Common Misconceptions About Deductions
Seven Important Facts About Medical and Dental Expenses
Determining Your Correct Filing Status
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Posted by Tax Shack on March 19, 2013
If you use part of your home for your business, you may qualify to deduct expenses for the business use of your home. Here are six facts from the IRS to help you determine if you qualify for the home office deduction.
1. Generally, in order to claim a deduction for a home office, you must use a part of your home exclusively and regularly for business purposes. In addition, the part of your home that you use for business purposes must also be:
• your principal place of business, or
• a place where you meet with patients, clients or customers in the normal course of your business, or
• a separate structure not attached to your home. Examples might include a studio, workshop, garage or barn. In this case, the structure does not have to be your principal place of business or a place where you meet patients, clients or customers.
2. You do not have to meet the exclusive use test if you use part of your home to store inventory or product samples. The exclusive use test also does not apply if you use part of your home as a daycare facility.
3. The home office deduction may include part of certain costs that you paid for having a home. For example, a part of the rent or allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and utilities could qualify. The amount you can deduct usually depends on the percentage of the home used for business.
4. The deduction for some expenses is limited if your gross income from the business use of your home is less than your total business expenses.
5. If you are self-employed, use Form 8829, Expenses for Business Use of Your Home, to figure the amount you can deduct. Report your deduction on Schedule C, Profit or Loss From Business.
6. If you are an employee, you must meet additional rules to claim the deduction. For example, in addition to the above tests, your business use must also be for your employer’s convenience.
For more information, see Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home. It’s available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Publication 587, Business Use of Your Home
Tips for the Self-Employed
Labor Law Posters – Did You Know They Were Required?
Employees vs. Subcontractors
Important Information About Hiring Subcontractors
Four Things You Should Know If You Barter
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Posted by Tax Shack on March 19, 2013
Taking money out early from your retirement plan can cost you an extra 10 percent in taxes. Here are five things you should know about early withdrawals from retirement plans.
1. An early withdrawal normally means taking money from your plan, such as a 401(k), before you reach age 59½.
2. You must report the amount you withdrew from your retirement plan to the IRS. You may have to pay an additional 10 percent tax on your withdrawal.
3. The additional 10 percent tax normally does not apply to nontaxable withdrawals. Nontaxable withdrawals include withdrawals of your cost in participating in the plan. Your cost includes contributions that you paid tax on before you put them into the plan.
4. If you transfer a withdrawal from one qualified retirement plan to another within 60 days, the transfer is a rollover. Rollovers are not subject to income tax. The added 10 percent tax also does not apply to a rollover.
5. There are several other exceptions to the additional 10 percent tax. These include withdrawals if you have certain medical expenses or if you are disabled. Some of the exceptions for retirement plans are different from the rules for IRAs.
For more information on early distributions from retirement plans, see IRS Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income. Also, see IRS Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs). Both publications are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income
Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)
Take Credit For Your Retirement
Social Security Benefits and Your Taxes
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Posted by Tax Shack on March 19, 2013
The Child and Dependent Care Credit can help offset some of the costs you pay for the care of your child, a dependent or a spouse. Here are 10 facts the IRS wants you to know about the tax credit for child and dependent care expenses.
1. If you paid someone to care for your child, dependent or spouse last year, you may qualify for the child and dependent care credit. You claim the credit when you file your federal income tax return.
2. You can claim the Child and Dependent Care Credit for “qualifying individuals.” A qualifying individual includes your child under age 13. It also includes your spouse or dependent who lived with you for more than half the year who was physically or mentally incapable of self-care.
3. The care must have been provided so you – and your spouse if you are married filing jointly – could work or look for work.
4. You, and your spouse if you file jointly, must have earned income, such as income from a job. A special rule applies for a spouse who is a student or not able to care for himself or herself.
5. Payments for care cannot go to your spouse, the parent of your qualifying person or to someone you can claim as a dependent on your return. Payments can also not go to your child who is under age 19, even if the child is not your dependent.
6. This credit can be worth up to 35 percent of your qualifying costs for care, depending upon your income. When figuring the amount of your credit, you can claim up to $3,000 of your total costs if you have one qualifying individual. If you have two or more qualifying individuals you can claim up to $6,000 of your costs.
7. If your employer provides dependent care benefits, special rules apply. See Form 2441, Child and Dependent Care Expenses for how the rules apply to you.
8. You must include the Social Security number on your tax return for each qualifying individual.
9. You must also include on your tax return the name, address and Social Security number (individuals) or Employer Identification Number (businesses) of your care provider.
10. To claim the credit, attach Form 2441 to your tax return. If you use IRS e-file to prepare and file your return, the software will do this for you.
For more information see Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, or the instructions for Form 2441. Both are available at IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses
Save Money with the Child Tax Credit
8 Potential Tax Benefits for Parents
Six Important Facts About Dependents and Exemptions
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Posted by Tax Shack on March 19, 2013
Small businesses sometimes barter to get products or services they need. Bartering is the trading of one product or service for another. Usually there is no exchange of cash. An example of bartering is a plumber doing repair work for a dentist in exchange for dental services.
The IRS reminds all taxpayers that the fair market value of property or services received through a barter is taxable income. Both parties must report as income the value of the goods and services received in the exchange.
Here are four facts about bartering:
1. Barter exchanges. A barter exchange is an organized marketplace where members barter products or services. Some exchanges operate out of an office and others over the internet. All barter exchanges are required to issue Form 1099-B, Proceeds from Broker and Barter Exchange Transactions, annually. The exchange must give a copy of the form to its members and file a copy with the IRS.
2. Bartering income. Barter and trade dollars are the same as real dollars for tax reporting purposes. If you barter, you must report on your tax return the fair market value of the products or services you received.
3. Tax implications. Bartering is taxable in the year it occurs. The tax rules may vary based on the type of bartering that takes place. Barterers may owe income taxes, self-employment taxes, employment taxes or excise taxes on their bartering income.
4. Reporting rules. How you report bartering varies depending on which form of bartering takes place. Generally, if you are in a trade or business you report bartering income on Form 1040, Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business. You may be able to deduct certain costs you incurred to perform the bartering.
For more information, see the Bartering Tax Center in the business section at IRS.gov.
Bartering Tax Center
Taxable and Nontaxable Income
Tips for the Self-Employed
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